The City of Design Challenge End of Summer Update!

CODC Blog 2

Hear our Intern's update on the City of Design Challenge! 

The City of Design Challenge’s inclusive design training sessions and talks are now complete. I cannot believe how quickly this part of the challenge has gone by. This internship has been an amazing opportunity to hear from so many passionate and informed speakers and gain an abundance of tips and tricks. I have even been introduced to new locations in Detroit that will be my new go-to. This opportunity has definitely reinforced the many advantages Detroit has to offer. I am very grateful that I have been asked to stay on the Design Core team not only until the end of summer but during the school year as well in order to continue to learn and grow with an amazing community. The talks and sessions have been so informative to everyone involved. In the second half of the challenge talks, we heard from many more inspiring and informative people. There actually have been twelve events with twenty-one more amazing speakers since my last blog post!  To see the recordings from each session click HERE!

Although our talks and sessions are over, many of the teams participating in the challenge have events of their own coming up in September. It will be nice to see some of their work in action. You can also see all of the projects at our City of Design Challenge Showcase October 7. We hope to see you there! To register for the showcase, click HERE!

Upcoming Events:

Every Saturday in September 7-9 pm is the Art in the Garden at Freedom Freedom Grower's Farm. To learn more click here.

On September 9th at 4 pm is the Detroit Windmill & Sky Garden Community Learning Site. To learn more click here

September 6-10 12-10 pm is the 18th Street Design-Build Hub: Live Mural Painting & Light Show. To learn more click here

On Sept 28, the Alley Activation Co-Creation Station will also feature a Detroit Windmill in a community setting. To learn more click here.


As we closed our sessions, we were able to hear from the teams to understand what they took away from the sessions and what they are working on from now until the final showcase in October. Below is a summary of what the teams will be up to!

18th Street Design-Build Hub

Team: Tanya Saldivar-Ali, Luis Ali, and Seann Lewis

The Community Tech Lab Portal provides access to the matter-port scans, recorded workshops, completed design walkthrough, demonstrations; that enhance the process of sharing knowledge on design-build processes. The portal is a work in progress and will host training materials and videos that they have created throughout the design-build of the 18th Street Design-Build Hub. Since purchasing the 18th Street property they have actively engaged local residents with the design-build process through community design workshops, preserving histories through a storytelling event, and working with high school and college students on an urban sociology service-learning project, the property, and neighborhood as the focus. They’ve hosted events, carried out surveys, and kept transparent communication channels open. This has helped them shape their goals, connect with neighbors and connect people to new technologies along the way. Community Tech Lab Portal’s next steps include informing the public on the current state of the hub, soliciting advice for the types of programs needed, and continuing to apply their technology projects in various forms through many community engagement activities.

Camp Restore Detroit

Team: Amy Fanta, Sanquise Powell, and Boratha Tan 

Located on Detroit’s Eastside in the Chalmers and Seymour area, Camp Restore Detroit’s plan is to have the Mobile Library placed in their community garden. It will provide books, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers and free WIFI throughout their campus. They are also planning a weekly Maker’s Space where community members can use 3D printers, T-Shirt printers, Sewing Machines, Lego Robotics, etc. This will provide opportunities for building relationships and community engagement as they build and design the rest of campus. The Camp Restore Detroit project addresses the issue of community members not having access to technology & they can use this to expand community engagement and relationships. It will give community members a library that is closer to their homes without having to cross major streets to get to it. The intended impact is to increase access to technology so that students who may have to do online learning can have a space, computers, and WIFI to complete their assignments, and to help local entrepreneurs who need access to 3D printers and T-shirt making machines, etc. To keep up engagement, they are continuing their weekly community BBQs to involve the community in further develop the design of their tech hub, while also holding Inclusive Design training for their stakeholders the second week in August, establishing a committee of community members who will run the mobile library once it is up and running.

Crosstown Connections

Team: Trice Clark, Jacob Saphier, and Ian Klipa

Their objective is to highlight the resources that are available locally within the community such as; the library, the Alger theatre, and the East Warren tool library. They also wish to create a gathering spot with free wifi when the Library is closed, and provide education around those available resources. This is for Neighborhood institutions that want to extend their reach and bolster their offerings, community members who don't have access to the offered resources or the knowledge to use them, and people who want an accessible gathering space that is free and inviting. They plan to listen to community needs by attending neighborhood meetings, only observing, then they will introduce themselves and their proposed project. Once they establish that relationship, they plan to take feedback and apply it to service offerings. Meanwhile, they will be connected with existing hubs that already have relationships with residents and get hands-on with neighbors allowing them to help build the hub.

Wind & Water at Feedom Freedom Growers

Team: Rukiya Colvin, Carlos Nielbock, Paul Draus, and Myrtle Thompson-Curtis

The goal is to create a wind-and-solar microgrid in a unique community setting that brings together urban agriculture, placemaking, and civic education while encouraging environmental resilience & sustainability. Issues addressed include water circulation - irrigation, water overflow - canal, disparities in access to resources and opportunities, energy resilience, and environmental justice.  Their goals are community engagement, technical support, community partnership,  installation, and community event/demonstration. To accomplish their goals, they have a wind power demonstration planned for DTE Beacon Park. After that session, they will hold community event/feedback sessions at Feedom Freedom, Beacon Park, Eastern Market, and CAN Art Handworks. Finally, they will hold an event for the installation of the Detroit Windmill microgrid at Feedom Freedom Growers and integration with farm and community functions.

Oakland Avenue Development 

Team: Patricia Dockery and Lendon Crosby

Oakland Avenue Development is preparing for the start of a mixed-use development initiative that will combine an Innovative Technology Hub with Affordable Housing. The Stafford House Live and Learn project will rehabilitate a mixed-use building to provide 10 units of affordable housing, a Coffee Shop, commercial rental space, and an engineering training center/office (a business component connected to a local industrial complex of automotive suppliers). The project is significant for Detroiters because it addresses several issues that represent deficits in the city of Detroit including blight remediation, employment opportunities, and affordable housing. The goal is to help people develop skills needed to fill high-paying jobs, and that can also lead to entrepreneurship. Many of their young people are more interested in developing their own businesses and pursuing their dreams than finding a job or working for others. Their neighborhood is destined to become a place that young people can pursue many opportunities and have a network to connect to through Stafford House. The Oakland Avenue project has engaged the community by including residents, community organizations, and businesses, getting feedback from stakeholders at every phase of the planning and pre-development phases. Stafford House has been a leader in the North End neighborhood for the past 12 years, focusing activities, events, and engagement on the needs of our residents. They are hosting several events from now through September that gives residents an opportunity to see the project firsthand and offer their insights. On August 7th they successfully hosted a community event for Arise Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day for resident participation. They will soon be giving presentations to various funders, City of Detroit departments, and other community organizations. Also, in September they will host students from Detroit Public Schools who will do volunteer work to earn graduation credits, and further offer their perspectives and recommendations for the project.

Underground Music Academy 

Team: Waajeed O’Bryant and Ill Weaver

The Underground Music Acadamy’s dream is to create a more inclusive global dance music community that’s more aware of its roots, and that benefits the communities it was originated from. Cultivating new generations of electronic music artists and disrupting oppressive industry practices. Principles that guide their work include creative learning, legacy, excellence, consistency, sustainability, opportunity, social justice, and anti-oppression. UMA’s online classes will be open to music learners from around the globe, the communities they prioritize are Detroiters who have been historically and systemically marginalized from opportunities to thrive in a city that is being rapidly stratified. In addition to their online classes, they will offer an intensive series of in-person classes and intergenerational mentorship to a select group of Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck residents, with a focus on residents of the North End. Phase 1 is construction, Work on the physical space in Detroit’s North End continues. They’re working as quickly as they can while maintaining safe operating procedures to make up for the lost time. Phase 2 is content & curriculum, Curriculum development is underway for both online and in-person classes. They have a slightly different approach to education than the myriad online schools, built from years of experience, they are working to formalize this approach for consistency without losing the proverbial magic. Phase 3 is the Grand opening. Online and in-person preview events are being planned to introduce their physical and digital experiences in the run-up before they officially open their physical doors in 2023. Step 1: Develop a social justice rooted electronic music curriculum with community feedback and collaboration. Step 2:  Facilitate electronic music curriculum (through a social justice frame) online. Step 3: Launch in-person fellowships with Detroiters. Step 4: Connect fellowship participants with opportunities such as internships and performances globally, who form an alumni network. Step 5: Cultivate a Detroit-led global network of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in the electronic music field-building power together. Firstly, they want to have one-on-one conversations with neighbors, potential participants, partners, teachers, and mentors. Next, UMA plans to host community conversations (with each of the focus groups mentioned in action 1). Finally, they will share a draft of their design challenge proposal for feedback from groups engaged in actions 1 and 2.